Do you know what happens if an infant is not held or touched? Believe it or not, they die. Now, I realize that it is unlikely any parent would purposely neglect touching their infant, but some parents are hesitant to pick their baby up too frequently.
The fact is, you can't touch or hold your infant too much. The more skin-to-skin contact they receive, the better. This is especially true at the early developmental stages. Infants who do not receive any skin-to-skin contact within the first few days or weeks of being born are at the greatest risk for health problems as a result.
There are numerous benefits of skin-to-skin contact for newborn babies. Studies have found that infants who are touched freuqnetly are more relaxed and sleep better because they produce less of the strees hormone cortisol. Infants who are touched also begin breastfeeding more easily and gain weight and grow faster than infants that are not touched enough.
The reason why touch is so important to newborn babies is actually quite simple: When a mother first picks up her newborn baby, a chain reaction of hormones are set off in the infants body. These hormones are responsible for triggering all of the benefits mentioned above. If an infant is not touched enough in the early stages of development, they will not go through the necessary hormonal changes they need to be healthy, both physically and psychologically.
It is not absolutely necessary for both the mother and father to touch the infant in order for it to be healthy and survive, but both parents should. It is not uncommon for the mother to touch and hold their baby more than the father, but the father's touch is still very important, especially for forming a bond between the parent and child.
The answer to this is quite simple. Eventually, the child will die. I know it sounds hard to believe but this is a fact. If an infant is completely deprived of skin-to-skin contact, they will die from marasmus, which is basically a severe form of malnutrition. In fact, in certain cases, doctors have been able to reverse marasmus simply by moving the infant into a more nurturing environment.
With that being said, it is important to reacognise that child development is a continuous transformation, and something that seems as insignificant as a hug or as simple as a touch goes a long way.
Far too many children experience growth on the outside but are emotionally dead on the inside because their development has been stunted because they are rarely, if ever, reassured, reinforced, or given the love that is needed for them to blossom into their full potential.
As a result, many young girls make promises with their bodies that their minds cannot keep using sex to fulfill the emptiness left by an absentee father and a preoccupied mother. Young boys join gangs in search of belonging, comradary, and the love that is missing at home because they have never been exposed to a father's love, or a male role model who is strong enough to hug them and stern enough to forge them into real men.
Children need more than physical nourishment and nutrition. There souls need to be fed and their hearts need to be nurtured.